What is the will of God? Will He tell me? Can I find it? How do I figure it out? These questions press upon us when we need to make significant decisions, and I’ve found it helpful to speak of God’s will in the terms you find below.
Decree: God decreed all things in eternity past, whether good or evil.
God decreed all things in the counsel of His will in eternity past (cf. Eph 1:11). Everything that happens is His will by His decree. Whatever His reason may be for allowing evil, we know that He glorifies Himself in His justice and wrath and power against evil, and we know that Christ conquered sin and death on the cross and will come again to rid the world of evil and its effects once and for all.
Desire: God desires only the good and never desires evil.
God neither exercises nor causes evil, but, in the mystery of His will, He does permit and allow it (cf. James 1:13). He does not desire anyone’s eternal death but rather their salvation (Matt 18:14; John 6:39–40; 1 Tim 2:3–4; 2 Pet 3:9). People’s own lusts are what cause them to wander from His desire (James 1:14–15).
Disclosure: God discloses His desires and only some of His decree.
God does not tell us everything (Deut 29:29), but he tells us everything we need to know. By obeying what He tells of His desires in His Word, we can be blameless and carry out every good work that He has for us to do (Ps 119:1; 2 Tim 3:15–17).
Direction: God directs us to carry out His good desires.
God has many ways whereby He directs us to carry out His desires. First, God gives us His Word to tell us what we ought and ought not do (cf. Rom 12:1–2; 1 Thess 4:3; 5:17; 1 Pet 2:15; 4:2; 1 John 2:17). Second, God directs us as we are already obeying His Word (cf. Ps 119:105). Third, His Spirit prompts us to obey His Word with what choices lay before us (Eph 5:17–18). Fourth, His providence arranges our circumstances as they are, limiting our choices to a degree (e.g., Matt 26:39). Fifth, others direct us through admonition and counsel (Prov 11:14; 20:18; Rom 15:14). Sixth, God uses prayer to direct our way (Col 1:9; 4:12; 1 John 5:14). Seventh, as we delight in Him, He gives us desires in keeping with His will, influencing our decisions (Ps 37:4; Matt 11:30). In these ways, God directs us to make decisions in keeping with His desires.
Decision: Take God’s direction and decide what you believe is in keeping with God’s desired will.
Discerning God’s direction, we make decisions as necessary. We do not do nothing, and we realize the future is in God’s hands, however wise our decisions may be.All quotes ESV. Articles by Pastor Huffstutler are at davidhuffstutler.com